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31st Mar 2020

Hahn hopes to wrap up EU budget talks this winter

  • Budget committee chair Johan van Overtveldt, and budget control committee chair Monika Hohlmeier look over commissioner Johannes Hahn (Photo: European Parliament)

Prospective EU commissioner for budget, Johannes Hahn, told MEPs on Thursday (3 October) that the future long-term EU budget should be agreed by "the end of the winter".

"I will do my utmost that we do have an agreement in good time, that we get a result towards the end of the winter," the Austrian politician said.

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Hahn is an experienced Brussels insider, who had previously served as regional commissioner and more recently commissioner for enlargement.

In commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen's commission, he will be tasked with finalising the negotiations on the budget for the next seven years, if MEPs in the budget and budget control committee will give him a green light - which is expected to happen.

Talks have already been ongoing between member states and the parliament based on a previous commission proposal on the first budget after Brexit.

Hahn said he had "noticed some signs of movement from hard-liner countries" that have been reluctant to pay more - such as Austria, the Netherlands, Germany - and allow the budget to move above one percent of the EU's GNI.

Hahn said if these countries want better climate protection, better border protection, that requires funding.

"I will go to all capitals that said they want a small budget, and I will go the media, he said.

Hahn pledged to MEPs that he will be an "honest broker" between the member states and parliament, which is pushing for a bigger overall budget.

"I can't imagine any kind of agreement that will be lower than the commission's proposal," he added.

The commission proposed a budget size equivalent to 1.11 percent of the gross national income (GNI) of the member states.

However, the budget plans could see "targeted adjustments" to out them in line with von der Leyen's policy program.

Hahn said the current commission budget proposal is a "solid basis" and said that "we have to look into the different policy areas" where tweaks might be needed.

"The commission services are working since von der Leyen's speech to the parliament on how to adapt to the modified strategies, I am confident most of it can be covered by the current draft," he told journalists after the hearing.

Hahn told MEPs that the easiest and quickest "own resource" the EU could raise will be the plastic tax - where he said only Poland is hesitant - and funds from the Emissions Trading System (ETS).

On the cross-border carbon tax, he said the EU should further explore hoe to design it and implement it.

On digital tax, Hahn said there is lot of "reluctance" in some member states, but EU "should not give up", "because it would be unfair, if big international companies could escape".

Hahn said for him it "imperative" to link EU funding and the respect for the rule of law. He said this should not be seen as sanctions, but rather as a way to protect the bloc's financial interest.

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